Taraxacum officinale is threatening my yard with vigor I have never seen before.
It started with a few sprouts that grew into puddles of color. It took just a few days of warm weather to turn the puddles into a sea of yellow.
Taraxacum officinale, or the dandelion, is the most common and easily identified weed in the country. It sends a stubborn taproot 3 to 10 inches into the ground and can survive the worst of Mother Nature's winters. Mow them down, and any part of the root left in the soil will just keep growing.
There are ways to tackle dandelions and other weeds without harsh chemicals. If you have a few small patches and some patience, you can pull them out by hand. It is easiest to pull weeds after it has rained. There are many dandelion diggers on the market. Some have a long handle and a foot pedal to pop the plants out of the ground. Some have a notch on the end to help pry the plants out.
Some gardeners say dousing an area with boiling water will kill any unwanted weeds, and some say that sprinkling young weeds with salt will stop them from growing.
Don't mow the turf too short. If it is 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall, it will keep the grass healthy and cover any low-growing weeds.
For yards with large areas of weeds, a rototiller or weed killers may be the best solution.
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Dandelions are perennials with toothed leaves, fluffy yellow blossoms, and a milky stem. Gardeners can pull them by hand or use 2,4-D.
Here are some other weeds and suggestions for controlling them:
●Ground Ivy can take over a yard, especially one that is stressed. It is low growing and has mintlike leaves. Try using 2,4-D or triclopyr.
●Nutsedge has thick triangular stems and is hard to pull out of the ground. It will grow again with even the smallest part of its root system left underground. Try methanearsonate to control it.
●Plantain is a perennial weed with broad round leaves that grow low to the ground. Pull it out by hand or use 2,4-D or DCPA.
●Bindweed is a perennial vine with pointed leaves. Try controlling it with 2,4-D.
●Canada thistle is a perennial with spiny leaves and wide-spreading roots. Try using 2,4-D or glyphosate, or mow it.
●Chickweed is an annual with floppy stems and low-growing leaves. Pull it out by hand or try MCPP or DCPA.
Unlike pre-emergence herbicides, which are often used to prevent crabgrass from growing in spring and do not harm turf, the herbicides used to fight dandelions and other broadleaf weeds will kill grass, so be careful when applying broadleaf herbicides. Don't spray them on a windy day and don't apply them to an entire lawn - unless you want to plant another one!